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Her pause seemed like shock. "I can't. I have to close tonight; we stay open till two when we have a convention."

"Oh." He'd had no previous idea that he was going to ask her out. Idiot. What was I thinking? I'm fifteen years older than her probably, maybe twenty. I'm the OPPOSITE of her. He struggled for something to say next, but then- An uproar poured into the bar with no warning; Fanshawe turned, startled. The professors, he realized. At once the bar was filled with mostly long-haired, bearded men ranging from their fifties to their seventies. Where earlier they'd been wearing suits, now they wore jeans and T-s.h.i.+rts, and the T-s.h.i.+rts were all emblazoned with prints of dour faces, presumably philosophers. The men lined up at the bar, ordering drinks in chaos, waving dollars bills in their hands. They're like spring-breakers, Fanshawe thought, only...old. But one thing he didn't like was loud groups.

And he was embarra.s.sed. Abbie had turned him down.

Part of himself was oddly impressed, because she already knew he was rich. But still...

It was past ten already, and his fatigue from the long drive was taking its toll. "This is a little rowdy for me," he tried to tell her.

"Huh?" She was juggling bottles for squawking customers, pouring two drinks at once. "Not to be born is best!" someone howled; then someone responded, "Sophocles!"

"I've got to go," he attempted again. "Can you just put my drinks on my room bill?"

"They were on the house," she raised her voice over the revel, smiling as she was now operating several bar taps simultaneously.

Fanshawe got nudged by a bearded gray-hair whose T-s.h.i.+rt read TRANSCEND YOURSELF! and showed a print of St. Augustine. "Pardon my Dasein," the man said, then barked to Abbie. "A Witch's Moon Lager, please!" Pardon my WHAT? Fanshawe wondered, aggravated. He left twenty on the bar as a tip, looked once more to Abbie, and saw that she was swamped with demanding customers. "See ya later," he spoke up, waving, then slipped out of his seat. She hadn't heard him. I can't even say goodnight to her it's so d.a.m.n crowded. How can somebody as successful as me have karma this bad? As he was shouldering his way out, he noticed two attractive women chatting with some of the professors, long-legged, vivaciously breasted. Their eyes glittered in a mild buzz. It took a moment to realize he'd seen them before, but in running apparel, not evening dresses. Harvard and Yale, he recognized. Tan legs s.h.i.+ned; the slopes of their b.r.e.a.s.t.s visible in their gowns seemed to flash at him. What flashed next was the image of them nearly naked as they lay hidden on the hillock; but he pulled away, just as some drunk yelled, "The human self is the only thing that can be known and therefore verified!" and someone responded "Bulls.h.i.+t! There is no objective basis for truth!"

This is some weird party, Fanshawe thought. Finally, he broke out of the crowd under the bar transom, al

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